Tag Archives: Christianity

Just James – Week 5

It is already week five in our mission to memorize the book of James in one year. This week we will be memorizing verses 12 and 13. There is still time to join in with us. In fact one of my friends found out just this past week that we were doing this and she jumped right in and caught up with us in one week! Serious kudos!

In our verses for this week, James revisits suffering which is one of the themes of the book. In verse two, James introduced that suffering would produce steadfastness or patience in the life of the believer. In verse 12 he further explains that for those who remain steadfast to the end there awaits “the crown of life”. This is not to be interpreted as a literal crown, but rather that those who in suffering and trials steadfastly persevere by trusting in the grace of God will receive eternal life. Let me clarify so as not to confuse anyone. Simply persevering through trials and suffering does not earn salvation or eternal life for anyone. Scripture is very clear that there is not one single thing we can do to save ourselves. It is by grace alone through faith alone. What the trials instead show us and what verse 12 is making clear is that persevering in trials and suffering is an evidence of who we are in Christ.

There are some who erroneously teach that when you become a Christian that your life will be all sunshine and roses. That is not what Scripture teaches. In fact James is quite clear that all of us will face suffering. He offers exclusions to no one. So if suffering does not earn us Salvation and we cannot avoid it, what purpose does it serve? I’m glad you asked. Suffering is not about us. Suffering is about us drawing closer to God. In trials God teaches us to become less dependent upon ourselves and instead to rely more upon Him. Those who suffer faithfully are drawn in their suffering to a deeper and closer relationship with Christ. It is in the stripping away of our own self-dependency and pride that we recognize and see God for who He is. As we lean further into Christ and become more dependent on Him and what He has done we are further united with Christ in His death and resurrection. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” How do we become pure? By exchanging our sins for His righteousness. What is the end result of us being considered pure? That we will see God face to face. The great promise and blessing given by God to those who follow Him that He will makes His face to shine upon us.

Verse 13 is loaded with tons of theological implications. So if suffering comes from God, does temptation come from God also? James is very clear that the answer is a resounding, “No!” God is holy. He cannot tolerate sin. Therefore, when we are tempted to sin it does not come from God. Next week, we will learn in verse 14 more about where sin comes from.

If there are any questions or if anyone feels like I may have gotten something not quite right, please comment below.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
(James 1:12-13 ESV)

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Happy Anniversary! Plus Two Contests!

It was one year ago this October that Kim and I sat in the rheumatologist’s office as he told us that Kim had severe rheumatoid arthritis (RAD). In almost every way the whirlwind we have been on this last year makes it seem like we have been dealing with this for much longer. Maybe it is partially because Kim has suffered with fibromylagia since 2007 that creates the impression that it has been longer than it actually is. Or maybe it’s simply the myriad of juggling new diagnoses, diseases, and medications that give the feeling that we have been dealing with this for years.

Looking back it is hard to remember all of the doctor’s appointments Kim has been to in the last year. The changes in her medications — adding a new one, taking away another, or increasing and decreasing dosages — seemed to come weekly. Many symptoms came and stayed. Some came and left and haven’t come back. Others come and go without warning and, seemingly, without a reason. Honestly, it would be nice if her RAD would drop us a note a few days prior to a weekend of fatigue hitting her, but so far we haven’t gotten any memos.

Here are a just a few things we have learned in the last year.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is not just an old person’s disease.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than just joints. It is a systemic disease that attacks the whole body.
  • That means it can also attack your organs including your heart and your lungs.
  • Prior to Kim’s diagnosis we thought the term “rheumatoid arthritis” simply meant a more severe form of osteoarthritis. It doesn’t.
  • So far, almost every doctor that Kim has been in contact with through work and personal appointments is tragically uninformed about the realities of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • We cannot imagine trying to deal with this past year without prayer and the support of our friends and family.
  • Kim’s diagnosis has caused the depth of many of our friendships to increase dramatically.
  • We have made many new “friends” through the Rheum community on Twitter. Though we may never meet any of them, many have become very dear friends.
  • We cannot imagine trying to deal with this past year without the online Rheum community. Nowhere else can we ask a question and get educated information literally within minutes!
  • Nothing means more to us than to hear someone sincerely tell us they are praying for our family. Nothing.
  • In the last year, Kim and I have had some very emotional, tear-filled talks about what the future might hold. They have been some of the sweetest moments of conversation in our marriage.
  • We still believe that God is in control of every moment of our lives and that He gave the gift of RAD to Kim and our family.
  • We believe ultimately that Kim’s RAD will glorify God and that it is for our good.
  • There are many days our flesh struggles to be thankful, but God’s faithfulness strengthens us.
  • We would love to get rid of the “A” word in rheumatoid arthritis. Our preference would be to call it Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease (RAD).
  • Contest number 1!!! You can help raise awareness and win some great prizes while doing so! The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation is having a video contest! If you can’t enter yourself, would you spread the word through Facebook and/or Twitter?!?!

As I close I would like to put out a teaser about contest number 2. Early next week I will be posting the details for our very own giveaway/contest on the blog! I am very excited about what we have planned and look forward to sharing it with you!

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Dear Me,

Dear Eric (circa 1988),

So if I have this right you are almost 16 and things are really weird for you. Sorry to tell you this, but that won’t change for a while. You will continue to try as hard as you can to fit in and be cool and do everything perfectly right and you will fail and in the end it won’t matter. In your late 20’s you will finally realize that your identity has nothing to do with you are, but rather Whose you are. More on that later.

Your spiked hair that you dyed blue was gnarly, and, like, totally awesome and you rocked your stone-washed jeans and the untied high-top Converse shoes. What I mean is that you rocked them as much as any 15 year old teenager ever could which means not so much. As badly as you want a pair of parachute pants you will never get them. That’s OK, because in a few years they will become the punchline to lots of jokes about fashion from the 1980’s along with the mullet and wearing the collar up on your polo shirt. I know you’re shocked, but it’s true! (P.S. If you could keep your favorite pair of Levi’s from your senior year that would be great. This thing called eBay comes along in the future and people pay thousands of dollars for retro jeans.)

Right now I know that you are excited and completely terrified at the same time about the changes that are taking place in your life. Your parents just enrolled you into a Christian high school for your sophomore year and it will be the first time in your life that you have ever attended a traditional school classroom. You are intimidated by the thought of meeting new kids and wonder if you will be able to keep up with your classmates. Don’t worry. You will. At least in the subjects you like. The subjects you don’t like you don’t actually put forth any effort and simply accept the minimum grade. It’s not your best attribute and honestly, you are much smarter than that and should try hard regardless of your interest.

In spite of the fears you have going into this new school environment you are also excited. Mostly about playing football and the opportunity to be around girls. Focus on the football. It’s a lot of fun and you love it. Girls? Not so much. Oh, there will be lots of girls you like and “dates” and many awkward moments that you will experience. You aren’t going to listen to me, but your teenage years will be significantly less complicated if you didn’t pour so much thought and energy into girls. Trust me. Some of them will break the little boy heart that is hiding behind your false veneer of teenage confidence.

While I’m talking about girls and school, I should probably mention something. You need to be a whole lot nicer to your sophomore English teacher. Sure, it’s funny playing a different prank on her every day; moving her bookcases, switching her desk around, and bringing a squirt gun to class with you, but I have some shocking news for you. She remembers those things and in a few years you will meet, fall in love with, and marry her little sister. Easy. Just breathe. It’s really great and you will love it.

You are about to make a lot of friends. To quote Bill and Ted, “Be excellent to each other!” Some of your friends you will keep in contact with some 25 years later. And some of them you will lose touch with in just a few years. You might be surprised to know which ones are still a part of your life today, but I’ll leave that part a surprise. One hint though. Some of them have children and their kids and your kids become great friends. Yep. Really weird.

Kids? Oh yeah. You will have three of them. You and your wife both love kids a lot and you will make great parents. Mostly, to be honest, your kids survive more because of God’s grace than the fact that either of you really know what you are doing, but you both fake it well. Your children will become one of the most sanctifying effects on your life. You need to know what that word means and should look it up. Unfortunately you won’t and it will be many, many years before you fully comprehend it.

One of the main reasons for me writing this is to talk about something that will become the most important thing to you some day. At age 15 you are entering into a school with some really crazy rules about what is right and wrong. Your parents agree with them. But teenagers have an incredible aptitude to see through hypocrisy and lies and this will cause you to question everything. In time, you and mom and dad will realize how wrong all that was, but that won’t happen until years from now. Until then, keep asking questions. Eventually, they will help you become who God wants you to be.

I’m sorry to tell you that this is only the beginning of a journey that will take ten years to reach its end. I wish I could tell you to take a different path or to not make some of the decisions that you will soon make, but I can’t do that. Here’s the straight truth. You are going to do your very best to follow the rules that your parents, your school, and your church have placed in front of you. You will maintain an image for all but your closest friends of being a “good Christian” when deep inside you know how utterly wretched you are. You will try and try and try again to live up to this standard that is held up for you to achieve. Years from now you will fail in the worst of ways and this time you won’t even try any more. This time you will give up completely and you will deny that God even exists. It’s OK. Hard to believe, but this is all good news. Eventually you will stare death in the face and want to let go of everything. At that moment God is going to step in. This is not the God you have ever heard about before. This God is full of love and mercy and grace. You don’t understand at all what those words mean yet, but He will shower all of these upon you. When He does, you will learn that there is not one rule or requirement that you ever have to keep. You will finally learn about the complete sufficiency of Jesus Christ’s death for you and that there is not one thing that you can add to what He has already done. You will become overwhelmed by His grace and will discover true peace and joy.

I wish in some ways it would come quicker for you, but I know this is exactly the path you must walk. It won’t be easy, but in the end it will be worth every step you take.

Every blessing,

The older you.

P.S. Don’t buy the Dodge Neon or the Nissan Sentra. Trust me.

Thanks to Emily at ChattingTheSky.Com for the writing prompt on this post. She just published a book called, Graceful. Honestly, I didn’t plan on writing this until the last minute. The more I wrote the more I realized what a mess my teenage years were and how much I need to talk to my kids about. This is a good thing. 

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